Release DetailsLABEL Candlelight
RELEASED ON 10/3/2006
posted on 9/2006 By:
Undeniably, figuring out whom or what to review is by far the most difficult part of my job here. There are generally two options when it comes to picking what to review. Either you can do the bitch thing and stick to your own particular niche genre or you can take the bold move and venture out into slightly unfamiliar territory. The trick is being bold enough to step out of your usual comfort zone and expand your repertoire as a writer and as a listener while at the same time attempting to avoid having my head nuzzled comfortably up my own ass. This is one of those times where I'm taking the risk of leaving my usual black/death/grindcore tendencies and attempting to see what other styles have to offer.
By now I’m sure we’re all well acquainted with the predominant stereotype of the female fronted metal band. We’ve all heard the annoying warbling of Nightwish and the poppy tendencies of Lacuna Coil, and I’d be more than happy if I could tell you that it’s time to drop the prejudices and approach this one from the perspective as purely a progressive thrash band—more than just another female fronted faux metal band, but I don’t know how convincing of an argument I could come up with. I’m just not quite convinced that To-Mera has broken out of the mold their predecessors created yet. With time they’ll undoubtedly be able to move further from the realm of what everyone else is doing and focus on making their own unique contribution to the genre, but as it stands there’s just too many similarities for comfort. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a great album by the genre standards, but my issue is that while it strives to be something more, it doesn’t quite make the jump to expansive excellence.
There are plenty of gothic metal flourishes through the beautifully bombastic orchestration on “Born of Ashes”, the melancholy piano of Hugo Shepphard, or just the overall style of Julie Kiss’s vocals, the influences are definitely there in abundance. But I’d also be completely remiss if I didn’t mention the quirky jazz touches present on “Phantoms” and “Dreadful Angel”. The real power behind To-Mera is their progressive touches that morph the band from the heavily thrash influenced rhythmic mechanism of “Blood” to the soft piano concerto opening of the ballad like “Parfum”. Quite decisively, the closest comparison I can draw to To-Mera is to the extremely similar powerhouse of Amaran, but nowhere near as hectic and about twice as brooding. Without a doubt, fans of older Within Temptation and the less melodramatic moments of After Forever will all find plenty of substance to keep themselves more than satisfied.
One of the big pitfalls for an album like Transcendental is exactly how vocal heavy the music tends to be. Whenever the vocals drop back from the forefront of things and the guitars or keyboards take over the true ability of the musicianship shows through, but the majority of the album the rest of the musicians take a back seat as simple accompaniments. In a lot of ways, that very fact absolutely cripples the album from the potential it could have had otherwise.
Albeit I’ve probably sounded overly negative, this is an enjoyable album and a worthy addition to anyone’s collection that enjoys the style. What did surprise me though, is the fact that the level of professionalism displayed on Transcendental is by far above and beyond the call of duty for the majority of the bands like Beyon-D-Lusion who can’t quite write a convincing enough album to assure me they’re just not in the game for the success. In light of the fact that this is a debut album, I’ve got to give it to the band that this is a damn fine first venture and while there are plenty of areas to go, this is one hell of an impressive start.
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